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Deepak Chopra, the wellness and meditation star who has served as a spiritual adviser to Lady Gaga and is friends with the Dalai Lama, defines a disagreement as “a clash of egos.”
In order to appropriately engage in a disagreement, then, the point cannot be to win it or change another’s opinion — “otherwise, they devolve into stubborn, angry arguments,” Mr. Chopra said. Instead, “disagreements exist as a place to start negotiating.”
Choose if you even want to engage
Think- Is this the hill I want to die on? Some conversations are futile.
If you decide to walk away, you can stop reading here.
Before you go, you’ll probably need to release some pent-up resentment that you’ve swallowed from choosing not to engage in your argument. Mr. Chopra said to “sit quietly with eyes closed, take some deep breaths, and center your attention on your heart. Continue until the residual anger dissipates.”
OK, you’ve decided to engage … So first, listen.
If you don’t start by trying to understand the other side, neither will they.
Learn about the other person’s values.
The simplest way to learn about someone else is to ask about what is meaningful to them. “They pertain not to politics, religion, money or sex. They fit the description, ‘Speak your truth,’” he said. “Find your truth before you spout off.”
Try awareness and a pause.
You might be angry. When a person is feeling challenged a natural reaction is “fight-flight-freeze” mode. This reaction immediately makes it impossible to be calm and calculated.
Another common impulse is the reactive response, “the ego response.” This is acquired at a young age. It manifests in four variations: “Nice and manipulative, nasty and manipulative, stubborn and manipulative, and playing the victim and manipulative.” So basically, being manipulative.
You need to use “insight, intuition, inspiration, creativity, vision, higher purpose or authenticity integrity.” You might call it: Taking the high ground.
Don’t engage in black-and-white thinking
Challenging someone into a decision is like grade school bullying. As said by Nelson Mandela: “Having a grievance or resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill the enemy.”
When confronted, stop, take a deep breath, smile and then make a choice.
“Ask yourself, ‘Am I going to be nasty? Am I going to be reactive? Or is there a creative solution to this?’” Mr. Chopra said.
He advises cultivating mindfulness to be better at “noticing the instant before you get angry, and then letting the impulse die away before it gains any more energy.”
If someone is attacking you, it is also OK to walk away.
Don’t try to prove them wrong
Mr. Chopra said you can slap another person — figuratively — and they might forgive you, but if you prove them wrong, they’ll never forgive you. Then, nobody has “won” the argument, Mr. Chopra said. The point of disagreeing is not to “win,” but to start negotiating.
Be prepared to forgive
You might not feel the other person in a disagreement deserves forgiveness, but consider it for the sake of your own peace. Forgiveness to Mr. Chopra doesn’t mean, “I’m lovey dovey, I hug you, I forgive you. You forgive me.” It means you’ve stopped judging someone’s past behavior,” he said. “It’s irrelevant. Let’s change the story.”
Make a (gentle) joke
It’s OK to bring humor into a tense conversation, as long as it isn’t cruel or demeaning. “Have you ever seen the current president laugh or crack a joke?” Mr. Chopra asked. “I don’t trust anyone who can’t laugh. So take a laugh.”